If you are like me, you are always trying to find ways to save money and the Earth. Computers can be power hogs, but they don’t have to be. There are many things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and your power bill simply by increasing your computer knowledge. If you aren’t using your computer, why should it be sucking up the power? There are plenty of options.
The obvious thing is just to shut it down when you aren’t using it. That’s a great start, but flip the switch on the power strip too. All modern (later than 1994) computers use a small amount of power while shut off, even if you think it doesn’t. An easy way to check is the light in the back where your ethernet connection is or on the motherboard; it’s always on when power is supplied!
This isn’t the only way to cut down your light bill. If you are running Windows, you can put your computer into hibernation mode. Hibernation takes a still frame of your computer’s current state and turns off the computer. While, this is great, I recommend rebooting or shutting down your computer at least once a week.
Sleep mode is good, but hibernation is better. Sleep mode turns off your processor, drives, and devices. Your RAM, keyboard, and mouse are still consuming power. This mode can be done by Windows after a certain period of inactivity or by the user manually.
Your monitor plays an important role as well. CRT monitors are notorious electricity hogs. Flat panels use about 30%-40% of the power of a CRT. LCDs also free up desk space, so both footprints are smaller. Beware of the toxic chemicals left over from flat panel production though. Do your homework before buying a monitor.
The absolute least you can do is set your computer to turn off your monitor after 5 or 10 minutes of inactivity. This shouldn’t be your first choice, but it is better than doing nothing at all to reduce your computer’s power consumption. Think about it. Trust me, the wait for your computer to power back up is worth the money you’ll save.